cider

Yes, I was the woman on the phone with my neighbourhood Food Basics yesterday at 8 AM, asking the produce guy if they were yet stocking apple cider for the season. I must have been really excited, or the produce guy was really friendly, because he chortled, lo, he was just putting out his first shipment, and could he save me a jug, my dear?

Austin, seeing my tousled-hair and pyjama-ed state, once again wins husband-of-the-year for putting on pants and walking to the grocer to retrieve said cider.

I’m an apple cider junkie. Pumpkin Spice may rule our collective autumn, but not mine. I like my cider cold, hot, spiked, in doughnuts, with a cinnamon stick, as braising liquid, turned into sorbet or vinegar, in candle form…

When I was little, without fail, we kicked off every fall with a trip to the apple orchard. It’s a tradition that continues today in my family. We’d pluck more apples from the trees than we could possibly eat — fat Mutsus for mom, symmetrical Red Delicious for dad (never refrigerated!) and sweet-tart McIntosh for us girls, shining the apples on our jeans and tasting for quality control right in the orchard. The sticky juice dribbled over our chins and onto our hands. Mom doled out baby wipes to keep things under control.

Heck, we were married in October for (amongst other reasons) the apple cider. My dear stepdad Mike can attest to this, having carefully transported 12 four-litre jugs of the liquid gold from my best Essex County apple orchard to our wedding venue the day before we married. “Are you sure people are gonna drink all this?” he asked. (The answer, it goes, was no. It seems our per-person cider consumption calculations were slightly off, and skewed towards our own.)

I have a thousand favourite memories from that weekend. One is the morning after our wedding, filling a rental truck with said leftover cider jugs and flower arrangements, and driving through Windsor, new husband and wife, and dropping them off to everyone we knew. Thanksgiving Fairies, we called ourselves. “Decorate your table and keep the vase!” we’d scrawl on notes. “Have some cider with your pumpkin pie!” We’d drop the flowers and jugs on stoops and sprint: our post-wedding nicky nicky nine doors experiment.

By October’s end, I’ll be cidered out for another year. I’ll forget about my fondness, as the season gives way to winter’s eggnog and spring’s snap peas and summer’s tomatoes, and other harbingers of the seasons. Until then, our fridge has a steady supply and the market is not too far, should our stores run low.

(Photo: me at Thiessen Orchards, the day before our wedding)

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